It goes without saying that we at CivicActions have been watching the presidential race with a passion that borders on addiction. We have also been excited by recent developments and new uses of technology in the service of civic engagement (which was, in part, what our company was founded on 4 years ago).
One technology that I am totally psyched to see in action is microblogging, specifically the work that TwitterVoteReport.com is doing on real time election/voting condition monitoring. If you are a twitter user you should definitely check out the site and get involved. If you were looking for a reason to try out twitter, well here it is! You also might want to read my blog on organization-based use of Twitter.
One of our newest clients, VoterAction.org is also monitoring the election and asking people to phone in their election report. They will have on the ground operations in a number of states, and they will be posting some of the vote report calls on their website. We have been working with them to make some last minute updates before the election and also consider how they might use some new technology like Twitter or SMS to receive vote reports.
I recently saw (via Twitter from Beth Kanter) a really great survey of how social media has been used in the 2008 elections and what non-profit organizations can learn from those experiences, which had this to say about Twitter:
Twitter gives you 140 characters to make your point (“tweet”) to an international community of people interested in following your comments. Election 2008 searches the endless stream of “tweets” for key electon words (McCain, Palin, Obama, Biden, Clinton, etc.) and “aggregates” them at http://election.twitter.com/. These posts were literally “mashed up” with Current TV’s (http://current.com/) election debate feeds that aired on their cable channel and web video feed. The steady stream of observations ran as debate subtitles and gave a quick peek into the “mind of the US voter” (or at least the tech-savvy segment of the population). Twemes also aggregates Twitter posts (you direct it with a pound sign: #votereport). Andy Carvin and others just launched a new “tweme” http://twemes.com/votereport that will track local voting irregularities. B/T/W Twitter posts can also be tracked through Twittervision
But before you decide to jump in to Twitter or other social media with your organization, you might want to read my blog post for Net2ThinkTank on evaluating social media training expenses within non-profits.
But whatever you do, remember to go vote. In many states you can cast your ballot already, as I plan to do tonight in Seattle.